Innovation and Quality – differences in approach


The International Organization for Standardization has recently published ISO 56002, a guidance document that helps companies be more innovative. As they state,“this document provides guidance for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continual improvement of an innovation management system for use in all established organizations.”

The newly introduced guideline for innovation follows the common ISO structure, allowing an easy alignment with ISO 9001, the Quality Management System standard. However, given the fluctuating and uncertain nature of the concept of innovation, the approach is different from the standard for quality management.

According to Peter Merrill, one of the many contributors of ISO 56002, innovation requires a different thinking approach. I will share some of his ideas throughout the following paragraphs. Let’s take PDCA, Plan do check and act, a four-step management method used and proposed in ISO 9001. When it comes to innovation, the “plan” aspect is more of a proposition to observe; we need to observe what the forces are acting in our organization. Evaluate their impact and set direction for your organization. Another important point when looking or thinking about our customers, is that when it comes to innovation, our customers don’t exist yet. We have to think about what our future potential customers would look like, and what they would require from you.

What about the scope? Merill states that with innovation, we can expect to be constantly reviewing the scope. When it comes to SWOT analysis, we will look at opportunities first, and evaluate what its threats are.

The last concept I want to touch upon is the core of innovation: creativity. There is no innovation without creativity, it cannot exist. You have to use creative skills in order to innovate, in the same way that you cannot innovate without the ability to execute. Clause 4.4.2, Culture, emphasizes the coexistence between creativity and execution. Unlike with ISO 9001, where we measure, define and analyze our company’s quality aspects, ones that are unique to ourselves and no one else, in ISO 56002 we are required to think about issues in IP ownership. I am executing an idea that belongs to someone else?

If you are interested in learning more about ISO 56002, do not hesitate to reach out to us at

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